There is no denying that 2020 has been a difficult year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, forcing drastic changes in both the global and local economy, especially when it comes to the retail sector and independent businesses. Many local businesses have had to close down, while even more are still struggling to survive.
It’s obviously an environment of uncertainty and worry for local businesses as they grapple with this unprecedented and sudden situation. While consumer behaviour has seen massive changes and led to exciting innovations in the last two decades due to the rapid adoption of the internet across the world, coupled with smartphones and data being available at cheap prices especially in the developing and populated parts of the world, nothing had prepared any industry to deal with a crisis of this magnitude. Naturally then, local business owners find themselves on shaky ground.
But even though 2020 might be making most of us feel unsettled at the moment, once the worst is behind us, it might just be the year we look back on and see as the year that forced businesses to modernise to keep pace with the changing times and truly harness the power of the internet in all its glory.
It’s true that ever since our country went into lockdown to battle the coronavirus, the daily schedules and routine behaviours of the average consumer have undergone extraordinary changes, and in turn, the effect trickled down to the way we spend our money, and how we behave while buying. In India alone, within the first 100 days itself, the country’s retail sector saw a staggering loss of Rs 15.5 lakh crore, according to The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT). India's GDP has also shown a quarterly contraction of 23.9% till the end of June, it's worst slump since 1996 when the release of quarterly data first came into practice. The shut down of offline shopping spots where crowds would generally flock, like malls, stores and markets, has also adversely impacted the retail sector in India, with a sharp drop of 50% and more in sales for consumer companies during the lockdown. And because case rates continue to incline and phased lockdown is still ongoing in several parts of the country, it's highly unlikely for consumer demand to return to the baseline.
But even before the pandemic, due to the widespread access to smartphones and cheap data available even in the remote parts of the country, the average Indian customer was being drawn to online shopping and retail at a fast pace. As of November 2019, rural India had 227 million active internet users, while the number of urban India was around 205 million, Internet & Mobile Association of India and Nielsen reported. Last year, India also became the second-largest internet user market in the world behind China, with 504 million active Internet users aged 5 years and above. The Internet penetration rate in India stood at a mere 4% in 2007, but by 2019 it had increased to around 48.48%. Additionally, the number of online shoppers in India reached 120 million in 2018. Out of the 1,00,000 pin codes in the country, online retailers deliver to around 15,000-20,000, and the eCommerce market in India grew to $38.5 billion in 2018 from $24 billion in 2017. The promise of convenience, hyper-competitive prices, massive sales, and short delivery times had already been tempting the price-sensitive Indian customer, but all these considerations became even more important this year, dictating why people shop the way they do.
Linked to convenience and price is the all-important consideration of safety. In addition to being able to buy whatever they need in the most convenient way possible as Covid-19 ripped through the world, people’s focus on taking every possible measure to ensure the safety of their loved ones is at an all-time high.
But what has that got to do with retail, particularly when it comes to independent store and restaurant owners? It is not surprising that in this environment of caution and convenience, every business in the market had to buck up and match the requirements of the 2020 shopper, driven fundamentally by easy, quick and contactless purchasing options.
And along came a boom of massive proportions in the already flourishing online shopping industry. As the statistics concerning the current pandemic began to inflate, and more and more people around the world retreated to the safety of their homes, the number of times "add to cart" was clicked on a weekly basis soared substantially. So much so, it has been forecasted that the global e-commerce industry will reach a whopping 4.2 trillion dollars in sales, by the end of 2020. The Indian e-commerce market which was estimated to be around 1.35 billion dollars in 2018, is expected to reach 9 billion dollars by 2024 and even surpass the USA to become the second-largest E-commerce market after China, by 2034.
We also have to consider the sea of change in the experience of shopping online today. 26 years ago, in 1994, when the world saw its first secure online shopping transaction, there was a huge difference between the experience of buying things in a physical store and placing an order online. But with the breathtaking variety of products that are now available to the online shopper, along with innovative ways of marketing with which online shoppers are introduced to new brands and products, that gap is almost negligible. It’s no wonder then that for many people, browsing, selecting and purchasing things on their device from the safety of their homes is preferable to putting on a mask, heading to a store, maintaining social distancing norms, and all the other precautions that are important to take while shopping offline in 2020. In fact, a survey conducted by Local Circles in June 2020, revealed that only 4% of the Indian consumer population is willing to resume shopping at malls after the Coronavirus lockdown ends. The survey also asked people for their opinion on whether the government should permit e-commerce platforms to sell and deliver all goods instead of just essentials, and a total of 78% voted yes.
Another factor that might be a bit less obvious is that most shoppers now get their prompts to buy stuff, on the Internet. Think about it, around two decades back, most consumer journeys started with watching TV, coming across an attractive commercial for a product, followed by adding it to your shopping list for the next time you visit a store. What happens now, however, is the consumer wants something, they Google that thing followed by shortlisting their options, and finally buying it. So regardless of where the final transaction takes place, the starting point for shopping has shifted base from offline stimuli like TV commercials and newspaper advertisements, to online cues that are easier and quicker to follow, like social media advertisements and website links. On top of that, the factors that led to hesitation in the case of shopping for clothes, shoes, makeup etc, like doubts about the quality, difficulties of return or exchange, and trying things on before buying them, have been addressed by more advanced, refined and virtual features, like augmented reality virtual trial rooms.
So, in a nutshell, shopping as an activity has mostly gone online. And for brick-and-mortar businesses, playing against the buyer's powerful preference to get all that they need without stepping foot outside, is progressively becoming more challenging. Even things as vitally important and usually bought from the nearest corner shop, as fresh produce, groceries and medicines, are now dominantly purchased online. In fact, it's predicted that the Indian online grocery market may end up clocking 3 billion US dollars in sales, by the end of this year!
Coming to the implications of these reports for the average Indian business owner, one thought emerges as the presiding judgement - it's time for a change. As tragic as the Covid-19 pandemic has been for the world economy, it has made one thing very clear for consumer businesses — the urgent need to be present online and to sell to customers directly on the internet. Now, as a business owner in India, there are two ways you can think about all these changes in the world of retail. You can perceive it as a difficult challenge to navigate or a fresh new start. And if you're swinging somewhere between these two ends, we will help you settle on the latter by making the transition as easy as ABC! Which is where OrderHere by magicpin comes in. It's a first-of-its-kind app that helps business owners set up their own online dukaan or online store, in less than a minute!
But hold up one second, why should you opt for magicpin, when there are multiple other platforms on the internet that will let you start your own online store? Well, for starters, we don't expect you to transfer a hefty commission or a steep fee for marketing....ever. No, that wasn't a typo, if you choose to set up your online dukaan with us, you get to do it absolutely for free. So, taking your business online, selling your products directly to your customers on the internet, and every single step in between, not only gets easier but also unbelievably economical with our app OrderHere.
Before we launch into more detail, let's address your alternatives. The most common way to take your business online, is to set up your own e-commerce website. Which is fairly easy to do, as long as you have the money to buy a domain name and avail website hosting services along with the personal expertise or hired help required to build a website from scratch. Not to mention add your sellable products, build a catalogue, personalise your theme, and set up payment gateways. Sounds like too much work and investment? That's because it is.
Next option, choosing an established e-commerce platform to create your store. As appealing as this prospect might seem, be warned that it also comes with issues like mandatory monthly costs which differ with the features you avail, lower profit margins, considerably high direct competition, transaction fees for third-party payment gateways and the cumbersome process of picking a domain, choosing applications, arranging your page layout etc. And these are just a few from the lot. God, how tiresome! If only setting up your online store was as easy as registering with an OTP, picking a name and going live, right? Well, not to toot our own horn, but that's exactly what OrderHere lets you do!
Let us further elaborate on the ease of starting an online business on our platform. With OrderHere you can add your menu, online catalogues, WhatsApp catalogues, store timings, and other details to make sure that customers keep coming back to you. And none of these steps are nearly as complicated as they might be with other mediums.
Once you register your online store with OrderHere, your dukaan will be enabled with the best, most secure online payment gateways to ensure the safety of each transaction. You also have the option of using our delivery partners to fulfil your orders. Basically, all you need to do is download OrderHere and set up your online store along with your menus and catalogues. Everything else is taken care of.
That’s not all. There are so many other benefits to setting up your own online store using the unique OrderHere online
We understand how overwhelming all these unexpected changes and the subsequent upheaval in the market can feel like, especially for small to medium-sized business owners. But the one thing we'd eagerly want to do, is to help you look at these obstacles as opportunities. To help you make use of this chance to sustain, grow and expand your business. And to help you adapt to the "new normal" by moving your business online and increasing your sales. Do it today, with OrderHere, an online dukaan app like no other. Without paying any money in commissions or marketing fees. In less than a minute. What are you waiting for!?